A$AP Rocky performs at the Hollywood Palladium, October 26, 2012. Photo by Robert Gauthier. LongLiveA$AP begins with brooding storm clouds, and ends with Florence Welch chanting you off into the night. Here’s what you get in between: 16 tracks, 17 guest features, over 20 producers, all working for 1 center piece; Rakim Mayers. Read more...
Photography by Tyler Singleton
A recent Kent State graduate held the first show for his upstart music blog on February 23 at Musica in the heart of Akron.
Chris Patrick graduated from Kent State in December 2010 with a degree in Applied Communications and a minor in Media Literacy and found himself in a familiar position for many young people today.
"I had just graduated, couldn't find a full time job and had always wanted to do some stuff with music writing and reviewing,” Patrick said.
After a friend designed the website for free, Patrick launched Keep on Repeat, a music blog focused on independent artists and musicians. I had the opportunity to speak with Patrick regarding his experiences at KSU, his website and the future relationship between independent music and the blogosphere.
What is Keep on Repeat?
It is designed to shine a spotlight on independent artists including local talent that get overlooked. A lot of people don't get a chance to hear them even though it is quality music. A lot of these artists give it away for free so its a shame for some people to not give it a listen when it’s free music. I was always making mixes and recommending stuff so making a site was a portfolio for them to go refer to if they wanted to hear some new stuff.
What are the overall goals for Keep on Repeat?
I am doing it for fun, but making money off it through advertising would be a bonus. Five years from now I'd like to be doing the same thing just on a bigger scale and doing shows on the regular. This is the first show under the Keep on Repeat name so I would like to do some bigger shows more frequently with the talented artists I'm covering. I kinda want it to transform into a hub people go to find new music, whether its dance and dub music or hip-hop and electronic music or indie rock or whatever; I want it to be a one-stop-shop for people that they can check daily.
Being a Kent State graduate, what experiences from school have helped you with the creation and running of Keep on Repeat?
I used to work in the Rathskeller for Kent State Student Programming so I helped organize some events down there and this helped get my feet wet and get some experience with local bands and students trying to play music. It gave me an idea on how some of that stuff works. Having Gene Shelton as a professor, he really taught me a lot. Him being the former Vice President of Warner Brothers Records, he gave me a ton of pointers and motivated me to go into this music stuff even more because he made a career out of it. There were pictures of him with Michael Jackson and Snoop Dogg in his office and that resonated with me.
How long have you been working to put on this first show and how did you select the artists?
We have been working to put this show on since last Fall. It was just a matter of finding the right date to get the chance to have some freedom to do what we want at the show. These artists weren't my first choice, and that's not to discredit them at all, but eventually I found that, being my first show and the blog being so young, you can't get too ahead of yourself. So, I went behind the theme of talented Ohio artists. Despite these artists being known on blogs worldwide, they aren't that known here in Northeastern Ohio. So, I thought it would be a good opportunity for these guys to get together to show Akron and the area that they are making music and buzzing.
What is your idea of a "perfect show"?
A perfect show? I mean it’s simple really. It doesn't have to be packed wall-to-wall, but people here: friends, family, fans having fun, dancing and cutting loose and forgetting about their worries for the night.
What are you doing to separate yourself from the staggering amount of music blogs on the Internet today?
Its funny you ask that because that is one of the reasons I started Keep On Repeat. I was reading other blogs daily and I was tired of seeing blogs that would post a song with just a sentence or just put up a video and that's it. I figured that some of this music deserved to be talked about. It deserved more of a description or introduction whether it be the artist's background or what album it is off of. I wanted to approach it differently and offer something that is new to the blogosphere, if you will. That would be something a little more writing intensive that posts once a day, or every two or three days, rather than 10 times a day and is longer and more thought out with quality writing. Something for people to sit down and read and actually learn about the artists and the music.
Other than founding Keep on Repeat, what other projects or work are you involved in?
Along with Keep on Repeat, I actually do A&R consulting with Lisa Davis Music Management. And through them I work with something called the SCMC music conference. We travel around the country and put on music conferences where independent artists can basically buy a ticket to perform and give us their demo and play a few tracks for us so we can critique it and even possibly work with them in the future if there is any potential there. In addition I work part time at the Apple Store in Summit Mall. But I really want to do this music stuff full time so between the website and the conference and consulting I do, I feel that I am on the right track. I just need to keep working hard to figure out how I am going to make it work for me.
If you could tell Kent State students still working to finish a degree one thing, what would it be?
Boy, that's tough. Honestly, I would say, as hard as it can be to figure out what you wanna do, just put your head down and work towards it. At our age, you really have one shot to do what you want. At this age, just give it your all, take advantage of living the lifestyle you live in college and ya know, try to make it happen in terms of your dream job. You don't have much to lose right now and it may be your only shot--take advantage of it.
How do you decide which music to post and which music to pass on for Keep on Repeat?
It's more along my personal tastes, but I can recognize when something is a good song, it is good music, even though it may not be particularly what I wanna listen to. I sift through it and whatever sounds good, whatever is a cohesively put together project that I feel deserves more attention. I try to stay away from stuff that gets over blogged and you see on every single site, particularly if it is a major label artist because I feel that they already have the resources to get their music out there. I want to help the underdogs that are just as talented, if not more talented, but just don't get that kind of attention.
Tell me more about the relationship between independent musicians and blogs such as Keep on Repeat.
We are in a time right now that it is just more open and beneficial for both sides than ever before because of the Internet. A lot of these taste maker blogs can really make a name for these artists and get them buzzing and have other blogs pick up on them and, in turn, get them major label attention. Sure, you have your social networks and email, but I feel that independent music blogs have taken this independent music to another level and really made it that much easier for artists to reach hundred of thousands and even millions of people that they wouldn't have reached otherwise before the Internet. I think they (blogs) are the backbone of independent music right now.
What's next for Keep on Repeat?
We are beginning to plan our one year anniversary. We are looking to have a really big show in the Cleveland area at a venue such as The Grog Shop or Beachland Ballroom. It might feature some of the same artists, but hopefully some bigger names that aren't from Ohio. Kind of like an eclectic group of rappers, DJs and other artists. We are also working on a new layout and design for the website. These next couple of months are looking pretty big and we want to show everyone how serious we are about Keep on Repeat for the year 2012 and the years to come. I want to turn this to a job and turn Keep on Repeat into a brand.
Patrick chose three distinct electronic artists for the first show with the Keep on Repeat brand. The evening began with a performance from two other KSU graduates, Freeze-Tag. Freeze-Tag describes themselves as “An Artistic Agnostic and Kaleidoscope of Candescent Characteristics”. Marcus, vocals, drum machine and keyboard, is Freeze-Tag with his friend Brad helping with sound effects. I caught up with them before their opening set.
How long have you been creating music as “Freeze-Tag”?
My first song came about five months ago.
Did you know each other before this?
Yeah man, we were in bands for years, since senior year of high school. We did screamo, rock music, metal and indie stuff too.
When you create your music what feelings do you try to evoke from your listeners?
A lot of them are minimal lyrically and I just want it to be more introspective rather than my lyrics out there telling you what the song is about. I want you to put it on and see it or visualize and interpret it.
What are your main influences?
A lot of electronic artists, indie, some chill wave bands and a lot of painters actually. It really helps me make music easier.
So your music is heavily influenced by art?
That is pretty much the goal of the music. I like to call it "Art Gallery Music". It is mostly visual, I am not up there telling you to do anything. Just close your eyes and zone out.
What do you think of the recent explosion of EDM (Electronic Dance Music) in the United States?
In the US, I think it's great. I think it is a great resurgence. I would rather see it popular instead of gangsta rap. The last time instrumental music was the most popular music in the United States was when jazz was around and the swinger era.
Freeze-Tag’s set had the crowd swaying while Marcus hammered on his keyboard. His voice was steeped with emotion as the set moved from songs featuring slow, pounding beats to quicker songs featuring his falsetto used as an alarmingly siren.
After Freeze-Tag, Akron native Jason Burns took the stage for a high energy DJ set featuring bass lines and drops that awakened the crowd from the sleepy euphoria that Freeze-Tag lulled them into. After the set, I snagged a few minutes from Burns.
How long have you been producing music?
I have been DJing since 1998. I started writing tunes in 2000. It slowly progressed over time as a hobby with me never putting that much into it because I am a graphic designer and that has been my focus. I have been paying much more attention to it the past three years.
What is your favorite aspect of your music?
What I really like is when I am in the studio when everything clicks and it gets me up dancing around the studio and I am all excited about it. That's the most fun for me. And I love performing when the crowd is really responsive.
Do you draw any parallels between your design work and your music?
As a designer, it is kinda of a "what the client wants situation". You really have to do what other people tell you to do. A lot of people go into graphic design to express themselves, but really you are expressing someone else. One of the reasons I do music is so I don't have to listen to anybody else telling me what to do, I can just do what I wanna do and if people like it, great. If they don't they can go fuck themselves (laughs).
Since you've been DJing since 1998, how would you compare electronic music now as opposed to in 1998?
Well, in the 90's it had a very specific audience. And if you weren't part of that audience, you kinda stigmatized the whole thing. You thought it was for gay people or you just thought it was for ravers and drugs. So it was a very specific group and everyone else made fun of it. It seems like people have gotten into it from different walks of life. It's not like "Oh, you're the type of person who listens to electronic music" and I'm the type of person who listens to something else. People aren't in little boxes anymore it seems. Plus, the music has gotten a lot better in the past five years.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring DJ or producer, what would it be?
The one thing I have learned over time is do what you like and don't worry so much about fitting into what other people are doing or trying to get an audience that already exists. One thing I've learned from other producers is do what you wanna do and try to do something different and something you really care and feel about and people will find you and come out of nowhere and appreciate what you do.
Keep on Repeat’s debut show ended with the headliner, Brothertiger. Brothertiger is John Jagos, an Ohio University student studying Music Production. Jagos is in his last quarter at OU and poised to continue to build his successful music career with a European tour this summer. Jagos’ music captivated the crowd with his spacey vocals and synthesizers. Before the doors opened, I sat down with Jagos.
How long have you been playing music?
I have been doing this for about two years or so. I've been playing music all my life though. I took piano lessons when I was a kid then guitar, then a bunch of other instruments and it lead me to this.
What are your major influences in your music?
I like new stuff like Animal Collective, M83, Caribou and a bunch of French house DJs. From the 80's, I'm obsessed with Tears for Fears and Talking Heads and stuff like that.
What feelings do you aim to evoke in your listeners with your music?
Happiness in general. Just kind of like, letting go of things and just relaxing and having a good time.
Is there any specific way you do that?
When you hear the music it's ethereal and cloudy and just, dreamy.
Tell me about your favorite memory of performing your music for others.
My favorite memory would be playing a sold out show in Brooklyn actually. It was this past summer and it was the best show I've ever done. A lot of people came out to see me and it sold out. A lot of people had a good time and that's what I want. It was perfect, a win-win.
Where have you performed?
I'm kinda steering away performing in Athens, Ohio, because I am about to graduate this quarter. I've played New York, Toronto, I flew to Denver to play a show one time. Just a variety of places really, Kentucky. Surprisingly, never in Columbus. I am planning a European tour this summer. Twenty six shows in 26 days. I'm going with Teen Daze from Vancouver.
In addition to the European tour this summer, what else is next for Brothertiger?
The most important thing, on March 27, we have my first full length coming out on Mush Records called "Golden Years". It's going to be great, the singles are already out. You can pick it up at major record stores or on iTunes.